Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) flagbearer Brigadier Julius Maada Bio
The Sierra Leone”s Chief electoral Commissioner of the National Electoral Commission Mr Mohamed Nfah Conteh has announced the final 25% of the Country’s Presidential elections result on Tuesday the 13th of March at the Electoral Commission Headquarter in Freetown. The 25% he announced marked the final remaining 25% after he announced 75% of the results about four days ago.
Statement released by the Chairperson of the National Electoral Commission and National returning Officer on the results of the presidential Election held on 7th March 2018 he said by the power conferred upon him by section 33,38(8),44,and 45 (1) of the constitution of Sierra Leone 1991, Act No. 6 of 1991 and section 70(1)of the public Elections Act ,2012(Act No 4 2012) the National Electoral Commission NEC conducted polling for the Presidential Election in Sierra Leone on the 7th of March.
After deliberations with political parties requesting re-counts, the Commission ordered recounts in 154 polling stations. Results from these polling stations were included in the result announced.
Results from 221 polling stations were excluded,including where the votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters. The NEC chairperson and National returning officer said according to pursuant of section 87(2) of the Public Elections Act,2012 the results of those polling stations were declared null and void and not included in the final result announced.
After counting and tallying of votes cast, the number of invalid votes cast at the presidential election on the 7th of March 2018 was 139,427 and the number of valid votes cast was 2,537,122.
Ruling APC candidate Dr. Samura Mathew Kamara
Out of the 16 political parties that took part in the country’s presidential elections only four were prominent and the main opposition party The Sierra Leone People’s Party SLPP headed by the former Brigadier Julius Maada Bio with a total votes cast of 1,097,482 with 43.3% and the ruling party The All People”s Congress party headed by former Minister of Finance and country planning in the ruling party Dr. Samura Mathew Kamara with 1,082,748 with 42.7%, National Grand Alliance NGC headed by the former United Nations Under-Secretary -General and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All intiative,Dr Kandeh Yumkellah with 174,014 with 6.9% and the Coalition for Change C4C headed by the former Vice President in the ruling party Alhajie Samuel Sam-Sumana with 84,720, with 3.5%.
According to the percentages from all the political parties no one obtained the 55% needed for a party to emerge the winner, so the National returning officer announced the 27th of March 2018 as the Run-off for the two main political parties,The Sierra Leone People’s Party as its leading the Incumbent All People’s Party by 2%.
Chief electoral Commissioner of the National Electoral Commission Mr Mohamed Nfah Conteh
Members of the diplomatic and consular personalities and the foreign and national observers were present when the result was announced, Now the whole country is quiet and peaceful as supporters of the two main political parties are in high gear for the Run-off on March 27th this year..Who will win is not yet clear.
The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) is predicting doom for Ghana’s economy as its debt crisis seriously worsens.
Prof. Newman Kusi
This comes barely five months after Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta declared during a presentation of the 2018 budget that the government through prudent management of the economy successfully reduced the country’s debt burden.
“This was achieved as a result of a reduction in the fiscal deficit and a policy of debt re-profiling,” the minister told Parliament in November 2017.
The country’s debt to GDP ratio declined from 73 percent at the end of December 2016 to 68.6 percent at the end of September 2017. Also the annual average rate of debt accumulation of 36.0 percent over the last four years declined to about 13.58 percent in the last 13 months.
As at May 2017 per the breakdown of the debt numbers by Ghana’s Central Bank, the West African country’s total public debt reached GH¢137 billion, increasing by GH¢9.4billion in three months from GH¢127billion. Currently it is said to be hovering around GH¢140billion.
Speaking at a round table discussion on the theme: “Ghana’s growing Public Debt- Implications for the Economy,” the Executive Director of IFS Prof. Newman Kusi disclosed that Ghana faces a high risk debt distress or increased over all debt vulnerability as the public debt situation “seriously worsens.”
According the think tank, the situation is already placing significant burden on the economy and society, and that the country is at a risk of falling back into an extended debt trap with economic stagnation and possible increases in poverty rate leading to a possible failure in its implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
He said the total public debts as a percentage of GDP dropped from a high of 113.1 percent in 2000 to 26.2 percent in 2006 driven by the HIPC and NVRI relief.
“But by end 2016 the debt to GDP ratio has risen to 73.3 percent and moving towards the ratios recorded during the pre-HIPC period. As a result, total public debt service to revenue has not only assumed a rapidly increasing path but has breached its indicative long term threshold,” he said, as 41 pesewas of each cedi that the government mobilizes as revenue is being spent to “pay interest on our debt.”
Debt service, according to him, now absorbs a huge part of domestic revenue, leaving the country vulnerable to shocks.
“The country has fallen into a debt trap as real interest rate continues to surpass GDP growth which has forced the country to continue committing more of its tax revenues to service debt,” he stressed.
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and human rights groups on Tuesday took to the streets of Lagos to protest over 400 per cent hike in land use charge and other taxes by the Lagos State Government.
The walk, which started from the NBA secretariat, Ikeja, took the protesters to the Lagos State Governor’s Office and House of Assembly, Alausa. Newsmenreport that the NBA, Ikeja branch, had on March 7 issued a seven- day ultimatum to Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode led-administration to reverse the increment.
The state government had increased the Land Use Charge by 400 per cent, Motor Licensing fees by 1,600 per cent, Court Fees by 2000 per cent and Bore Hole Taxes by 68,000 per cent. Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode Addressing protesters at the take off of the protest, Mr Adeshina Ogunlana, NBA Ikeja Branch Chairman, said the protest was a clear no to oppressive tax regime in Lagos State.
Newsmen report that Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Joint Action Front (JAF) and the Human and Environmental Agenda (HEDA) joined the protest in solidarity with the lawyers. The protesters came with red T-shirts, banners, placards and handbills with inscriptionsinscriptions such as “NBA rejects opressive taxes in Lagos State”: “No to Killing Taxes”. Others are “Ambode Stop This Oppressive Land Use Charge,” “We Say No to Double Taxation,” “We Say No to Insensitive Government Policies,” and “Don’t Kill Lagosians With Tax”.
Some of the protesters told newsmen that the hike in taxes would cause hyper inflation. ” The increment in taxes will lead to job loses and increase in unemployment. This will increase crime rate and insecurity in the state,” said Ayo Lamuye, a human rights lawyer. At the Lagos State House Secretariat, Alausa, Mr Kehinde Bamigbetan, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, received the protesters’ petition on behalf of Gov. Ambode while the Majority Leader, Sanai Agubiade,received on behalf of the Assembly. Newsmen report that NBA’s letter to Ambode was dated March 12 and titled “Call For A Re-think and Review of The Land Use Charge Tax, All Other
The Egyptian ministry of Civial Aviation will host the third edition of the Aviation Africa 2018 exhibition and summit covering the full aviation and aerospace spectrum across the African continent in Cairo on April 17 to 18 2018, according to the organisers.
It is reported that the summit will be hosted under the theme ‘Securing Strategy for Africa’s Success.’It is also added that the two-day summit will focus on the key drivers to grow business and opportunities across Africa in the aviation sector. Also, alongside the summit will be an exhibition area featuring more than 70 exhibitors.
Topics at the summit will include understanding the framework for aviation across Africa, understanding the threat and the solutions both in the cyber world and the real one,profit, competition, security or passengers? What keeps CEOs awake at night? airline business – challenging the status quo: Bringing low cost,regional and charter operations and new models to market and surviving surviving accidents and incidents with reputations intact, developing infrastructure and support for Africa’s aviation future on the ground and in the air and on human capital, developing and inspiring future generations to solve people shortage.
The House Committee on Works Chairman Hon. Toby Okechukwu has recently stated that the new bill before the House of Representatives Committee on Works is not aimed at reducing the operational capability of FERMA as the Federal agency responsible for the maintenance of all Federal roads but will actually enhanced its efficiency as soon as it is passed into law.
This was made known during the committee’s consideration of the Federal Roads Bill that was referred to the House of Representatives by the Senate for concurrence.
It would be recalled that the House of Representatives have recently called for the federal government to declare a state of emergency on Nigerian roads as a result of level of decay it has suffered over the years despite being budgeted for in successive budget appropriations, which have resulted to the death of many Nigerians.
In his view, “this legislation is a revolutionary one, it is a reform legislation for the entire road sector which goes beyond creating an institution for the development of the road sector.”
“It also creates a framework for the regulation of the road sector which has never been there before, it also gives us an opportunity to have a road sector that will build the capacity to maintain and develop the roads in Nigeria.”
He further claimed that this bill is not a FERMA bill as you know FERMA deals solely with road maintenance, but this bill goes beyond road maintenance, it is a more all encompassing institution that will be created to deal with construction and maintenance.
According to him, it is an anomaly where you will have the ministry embarking on the award of contract and so now we have a ministry and other agencies, where the Ministry is to focus on policy matters while the agency focuses on the actual work on the roads which is to keep them motorable.
Fort Lauderdale, FL (March 13, 2018) – South African Airways (SAA), Africa’s most awarded airline, has announced the appointment of Marlene Sanau as the new vice president of sales, North America, based at the airline’s North America Regional Office in Fort Lauderdale.
In this role, she will be responsible for implementing sales strategies to strengthen and grow business relationships with SAA’s travel trade partners, online travel agency distribution channels, corporate customers, and key tourism industry organizations. She will also oversee SAA’s team of sales development directors located throughout North America, along with the Business Development and Inside Sales Departments in Fort Lauderdale.
Marlene joins the South African Airwaysleadership team in North America with an extensive international airline background having spent over 25 years with Lufthansa German Airlines serving in several sales and operational management positions in the U.S., Germany, Australia, and South Africa. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Central Michigan University.
“We are delighted to have Marlene join South African Airways and lead our sales team with her in-depth knowledge of the airline industry and revenue development strategies,” said Todd Neuman, executive vice president – North America for South African Airways. “Marlene brings a wealth of experience that will be a tremendous benefit to SAA
and our trade partners. She possesses the skills and expertise that will be critical to expanding and enhancing SAA’s presence in the very competitive North America to Africa market.”
South African Airways offers the most daily flights from the U.S. to South Africa with daily nonstop service from New York-JFK Airport and daily nonstop service from Washington, DC-Dulles Airport to Accra, Ghana or Dakar, Senegal, with continuing service to Johannesburg. our Johannesburg hub, SAA links the world to over 75 destinations across the African continent and Africa’s Indian Ocean islands. Onboard, SAA provides an in-flight experience designed for pure comfort for long-haul travel. Our customers enjoy a spacious Economy Class cabin, gourmet cuisine and a selection of complimentary spirits and award-winning South African wines and generous checked baggage allowance. Also included are individual audio /visual entertainment systems that deliver an extensive menu of first-run movies, music choices,and games.
“Our Son, our farms soil fertility have for years been drastically declining and so is our farms yields and thus we are poor and food insecure and unable to feed our families well. We have no collateral to access credit to enable us, purchase fertilizers, inputs, and agricultural equipment like walking tractors for use in tilling our lands. As you can see, most of us are elderly and less energetic and yet the traditional tools we currently use requires energetic and young people, who unfortunately have all run to cities in search of better income generating jobs/businesses” Says, a group of women smallholder farmers, in Karonga district, Malawi, during, our practical on farm training workshop that included training farmers in Karonga district in modern tilling, planting, and fertilizer application techniques.
When asked what makes it difficult for them to access credit, Their Leader responded that, “The patriarch setup of our society and cultural norms here, are too discriminative, as they don’t allow women to own land. She went on to say that: Women here don’t own the lands on which they farm and therefore cannot present land a collateral to seek credit from banks”.
The average age of smallholder farmers in Africa is 65 implying that the smallholder farming is dominated by aging, who in most cases, are traditionally oriented and finds it hard to easily grasp and adopt modern farming techniques.
Agricultural policy makers in Africa, must begin addressing questions such as’, Why is it that agricultural sector in Africa is not attractive to the youth and what can be done to make farming enjoyable and profitable to the youth?
This bleak situation is prevailing in all African countries and needs to be resolved, if African countries are to attain rural transformation and sustainable development that is all inclusive factoring in the fact that, agriculture in Africa is dominated by smallholder farmers.
Smallholder farmers in Africa, needs money to acquire suitable new agricultural technologies to boost their farm yields but continues to face huge dilemma, in accessing agricultural credit financing due to lack of collateral and the matter is made worse by traditional norms in some communities, where land is communally owned and one cannot even dare to claim ownership over it and cannot therefore present it anywhere to seek agricultural financing loan.
But let us ask ourselves a question. Why is it that African countries have failed and are still failing to develop an agricultural financing model to replace land as collateral and what needs to be done?
I have extensively traveled in rural communities of several African countries, especially, Eastern, Southern and Western African countries, training smallholder farmers, in new evolving methods of profitable farming, and practically witnessed, the absence of agricultural technologies, knowledge transfer, and lack of access to credit, predicaments which the smallholder farmers are facing. This scenario is making it hard for them to jump out of food insecurity and poverty trap.
What then needs to be done? African governments together with banking institutions operating in African countries, must develop a financing model, that replaces land as collateral, which would be like in form of the governments depositing an evolving agricultural development fund, in selected banking institutions, for disbursement on an interest free basis, to mapped out smallholder farmers, who on after harvesting and selling their produce, must return back, the interest free borrowed funds, to these selected banks, so that the other smallholder farmers can be covered in an evolving scheme.
This must be done hand in hand, with governments organizing smallholder farmers, into cooperatives and giving them a production enhancement morale, initially, for example, by constructing for them postharvest storage and small scale value addition facilities. This will make them not only to avoid postharvest losses, but to also be in better position, to negotiate for better prices for their produce.
African governments, must also seriously persuade global leading manufacturers of agricultural equipment like AGCO, John Deere CLAAS, among others, to massively begin producing products for smallholder farmers too, and not only for large scale farmers, who for decades have been and still are their main target market. African smallholder farmers need suitable equipment such as, A70-100 PS tractors and not A600 PS tractors.
One year back, while on, a practical field learning tour of, CLAAS factory, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of Agricultural machinery, with corporate headquarters in Harsewinkel, Westphalia, Germany, with production facilities worldwide, in countries such as, Hungary, Nebraska, USA, Southern Russia, India, and China, I only witnessed monster agricultural machinery, suitable only for very large scale farming.
However the good news is that, these global agricultural equipment manufacturing brands, have all set foot in African countries, and have appreciated the need to start producing products for smallholder farmers too, and some are in fact, producing walking tractors, which a few small scale farmers are finding it easy in using, in boosting their production. These walking tractors, are still out of reach, for millions of smallholder farmers in Africa, and the onus, is therefore on African governments to develop a funding model that will enable their smallholders farmers to get these much needed suitable equipment.
In sum, the skyrocketing Africa’ population, which is expected to double from current 1.2 to 2.4 billion people by 2050, necessitates, that, the continent, must devise food production strategies, that will, rapidly result into massive production of food, on sustainable basis, in the next 20 years, failure of which, will leave a greater percentage of its people trapped in food insecurity and poverty scenario, with resultant impact of widened unrest, wars, and crime increase, and to avert such catastrophes, African government must do, whatever it takes, to help its smallholders farmers access suitable equipment and inputs, to boost their farm yields.
*Moses Hategeka, is a Ugandan based Independent Governance Researcher, Public Affairs Analyst and Writer.
The African Entrepreneurship Award will fund $1 million USD to African entrepreneurs with scalable and sustainable businesses in 2 new categories: Sports and Innovation
CASABLANCA, Morocco, March 12, 2018/ — BMCE Bank of Africa is proud to announce the March 1st opening of the 4th edition of the African Entrepreneurship Award (www.African-Award.com).
The Award was announced by President Othman Benjelloun in 2014 at the Marrakech Global Entrepreneurship Summit and illustrates BMCE Bank of Africa’s ambition to encourage entrepreneurship across borders in Africa by rewarding talent and technology.
This initiative aims to support talented entrepreneurs from Africa or Africans in the diaspora whose ideas create jobs and improve lives on the continent. The competition remains open for entries until April 30th.
During the past 3 years the Award was dedicated to projects in Education, Environment, and Uncharted categories. Over 12,000 entrepreneurs applied from 132 countries. Mentors selected 112 Finalists and the Presidential Jury selected 33 winners to receive funding to launch or scale their business.
Volunteer mentors from all over the world support entrepreneurs with free, online business advice. These mentors are entrepreneurs, academics, and leaders from all continents who assist the applicants throughout each stage of the contest.
This year, the African Entrepreneurship Award will fund $1 million USD to African entrepreneurs with scalable and sustainable businesses in 2 new categories: Sports and Innovation.
The first round is open to all entrepreneurs to apply, from every country in Africa. Rounds two and three question entrepreneurs on the scalability and sustainability of their idea. Applicants are asked to support their project with an uploaded video or document. At the end of the journey, Finalists are flown in to Morocco for a Boot Camp, before they pitch in front of the Presidential Jury for their chance at $ 1 million.
BMCE Bank of Africa operates in nearly 20 countries over the continent. With this fourth edition of the AEA, BMCE Bank of Africa reasserts its commitment to support and encourage young entrepreneurs in their efforts to create jobs and improve lives in Africa.
Applications Open to Find Africa’s Most Innovative Start-ups Meeting the Greatest Financial Inclusion Challenges
CAMBRIDGE, United States, March 12, 2018 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation, today announced the launch of the 2018 edition of the Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion. The prestigious competition, awarding a total of $200,000 in prizes, was established to discover Africa’s most promising and innovative early-stage start-ups that promote and advance financial inclusion on the continent.
There are multiple awards and opportunities available for finalists. The grand prize winner will be awarded $100,000 and the two runners-up will each receive up to $30,000.The top 10 finalists are guaranteed to each receive up to $5,000 in cash prizes as well as VIP tickets to the Zambezi Award ceremony, cohort-building activities, international media exposure, and personalized introductions to the MIT Legatum network of investors and mentors. Past Zambezi finalists have led projects ranging from agricultural finance for the small dairy farmer to an employee-centric boda boda taxi business model.
The top three winners will also be invited to attend the Zambezi boot camp during the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) gala on the MIT campus in Boston and fast-tracked to the global grand prize with up to $1 million available. The IIC event is part of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and, along with the MIT Legatum Center’s initiatives, examples of MIT’s global commitment to the future of work.
Munyutu Waigi, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer of Umati Capital receives the 2015 Zambezi Prize
This year’s competition will be supported by the MIT Legatum Center’s annual Open Mic Africa tour, a cross-continent tour in search of Africa’s most innovative entrepreneurs that will debut in Spring 2018. The Legatum Center, with support from Techpreneur Africa and the late Bolaji Finnih, hosted the premiere event of the 2017 Open Mic Africa tour in Lagos, Nigeria.
The Zambezi Prize and the Open Mic Africa tour are pillars of the Legatum Center’s Africa Strategy – a global vision to leverage MIT’s ecosystem to improve lives through principled entrepreneurial leadership. The Legatum Center’s Africa strategy is also a core component of MIT-Africa – the initiative that encompasses the Institute’s global priority for collaboration with the continent.
The Zambezi application is now open for early-stage African tech start-ups who are furthering financial inclusion in Africa. Applicants will be judged on their ability to solve one of the financial inclusion challenges put forth by the Prize; their current and potential impact on the local ecosystem; the scale of their innovation; and the feasibility of the solution.
About Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT
The Legatum Center was founded on the belief that entrepreneurs and their market-driven solutions are critical to tackling the world’s greatest challenges and driving global prosperity. Based at MIT Sloan School of Management, the Center leverages expertise and research across campus to equip future leaders with the skills, values, and critical thinking they need to succeed as entrepreneurial change agents. The Center’s capstone initiative is the Legatum Fellowship Program which provides aspiring entrepreneurs with a world-class education and substantial tuition support. The Legatum Center also conducts a set of global activities to strengthen pathways between MIT and leaders of change in frontier markets.
The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest, private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006.
Roman Py says that countries that want to grow and rise in the near future need to be able to attract value and create capital as it is the only way forward
On the sidelines of the recent Power Africa Summit in Washington,DC,PAV caught up with recently caught up with Roman Py, Head of Transactions with the African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM),to discuss infrastructure development in Africa .
Introducing AIIM, Romain Py said it was a private equity firm whose interests is in investing capital into development projects mainly targeting infrastructure development. AIIM’s main target areas include telecoms infrastructure, mainstream energy, transport and power i.e. both thermal and renewable.
AIIM was formed 18 years ago and has subsequently grown in leaps and bounds ever since ,Romain Py said. To date AIIM has managed assets worth over 2 billion dollars and is currently managing other million dollar assets and operations in 15 countries mostly in West Africa.
Explaining how they take on projects, My Roman Py stated that AIIM has a two-fold criteria it uses in selecting which projects to pursue and which projects not to pursue. The first criteria AIIM employs covers the country as a whole, AIIM looks at the prevailing socio-economic-political environment to determine the suitability of running projects in a country. As is the case with any other investment, Mr Roman Py said that AIIM assesses whether it’s feasible to invest in a country considering the current investment climate. If the environment is unstable owing to political disturbances and the likes, AIIM takes the decision not to invest in that particular country. The same also applies to the economic aspect, if the economy of the country is fragile, then it’s unfavourable for AIIM to invest in that country.
The second aspect pertains to sector specific investment climate. Mr Roman Py stated that on occasions, the overall socio-economic-political environment maybe stable but when one looks closely, it’s possible to see that in one area for instance energy, the legal framework covering that area maybe vague and ambiguous while the legal framework for investing in telecoms infrastructure maybe clear and favourable for investment. In this instance, AIIM will then make a decision on investing in the one area that is investor friendly and disengage from the other unfavourable investment sectors.
During its 18 years in existence, AIIM has had some big successes according to Mr Roman Py. While AIIM’s operations have seen the company working in various countries around the continent, it is in West Africa that AIIM has managed to record massive success. Mr Roman Py says AIIM’s first big success story came in 2014 when the firm managed to finish a 240 megawatt Independent Power Producer (IPP) plant in Ghana. This was soon followed by a 450 megawatt gas fired plant a year later in Nigeria. In 2017, AIIM also finished another 90 megawatt IPP power plant in Mali, the first of its kind in the country. In the same year, AIIM also won a bid for another IPP power plant in Ghana. AIIM has other IPP power plants still in progress in Kenya and in Cote d’ voire.
As is the norm when running a business, AIIM encounters operational challenges in its line of business. Though there are quite a number of challenges, Mr Roman Py stated that their two biggest challenges include the ever-changing socio-political environment in African countries and power shortages. He said that while AIIM diligently assesses each country before starting projects, there are cases where the environment quickly changes from stable to unstable owing to unforeseen circumstances. Also, AIIM encounters power challenges as most African countries have unreliable power supplies which makes it difficult for AIIM to operate as most its projects require high amounts of power.
Roman Py went on to state that the amount of capital being injected into infrastructure development projects has sharply decreased in recent years .He attributed this to the investment climate which is slowly deteriorating. Roman Py said that Africa saw massive capital injection in the last 10 years, but that has since stagnated in the past two years. To Roman Py, this is as a result of the failure by African governments in particular and also private entities to close projects. He said that there are many ‘ground-breaking’ ceremonies in Africa where Heads of State and Government launch major projects but abandon them soon afterwards leaving a trail of unfulfilled mega-deals.
This problem can be rectified however as Roman Py said African countries need to move away from signing too many deals that ultimately fail, but rather focus on projects that they can fulfill and close. Roman Py said that “success breeds success” and as such once the first project succeeds, then it sets a good precedent for the next project to succeed in the end culminating in a permanent circle of successful projects.
Roman Py also took time to comment on AIIM’s relationship with the Chinese. He said the relationship is more of a complementary relationship rather than a competitor relationship. This he explained saying Chinese come to Africa as contractors aiding government development projects and operate as contractors when on the ground. However, AIIM doesn’t operate as a contractor as it mostly conducts its business and operations separate from the government, it is more of a private entity.
Roman Py said that countries that want to grow and rise in the near future need to be able to attract value and create capital as it is the only way forward,citing Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Senegal as encouraging examples.
API’s Moussa Toure talks Investment in Mali with PAV’s Ajong Mbapndah L
With the world still looking at Mali from the prism of security, Moussa Toure General Manager of the Mali Investment Promotion Agency (API in French) says it is time for the narrative to reflect the myriad of opportunities waiting with open arms for investors.
Talking to PAV on the side-lines of the recent Power Africa Summit in Washington, DC, Toure said as the security situation gets better by the day, now is the time for investors to take a fresh look at his country.
Mr. Moussa Toure Good afternoon, and welcome to Washington DC.
You are the Managing director of the Malian Investment Promotion Agency. Can you start by introducing the agency for us, what is it that the agency does?
Thank you for this opportunity, our main role is about promoting Mali as a good destination for investment and to do so, we work on the country’s image, especially with challenges the country is facing with political and Security problems, after that we work to identify investment opportunities, I clear them and find the good investors that can take those opportunities and invest in. When we have some investors interested in some sectors or projects, we assist them in all the process; source information, have meetings with key stake holders and help them ease the investment process. We also work to improve the business climate by leading some reforms.
Before we continue with investment, how is the security situation like in Mali today?
The security situation is still challenging, but it’s not only a problem of Mali, security issues are worldwide today, but Mali is part of that and what is also clear is that we are confident that the most difficult part is behind us. The government is really engaged in taking all necessary actions to tackle this issue. For two years now, the government has been investing 15% of the budget into this activity to harmonize security, this is a big effort and it’s now paying off, it has taken time, but we already are beginning to see the fruits of these efforts.
So, if there were investors who are interested in coming to Mali security is not something that they should worry so much about?
I don’t think so.
Okay, how is the investment climate like in Mali?
The Investment climate is improving, we’ve hurdled to many reforms, we have implemented many in a couple of years, but we still have room for improvement. So this is our focus to still work to improve and facilitate business development and everything around that. As one of our last reform, the government has adopted a new PPPO to facilitate project development by private investors, so this is a good step in Mali.
To the investors out there in Europe, in Washington DC, where you currently are, if they were to come to Mali for investment what are some of the sectors that they should be on the lookout?
for, what are some of the investment opportunities that you have in Mali today?
We are currently focusing our strategy on four main sectors, one is Agriculture, the second is livestock, the third sector is energy, and the last one is infrastructure. We also have the new technology as one of the priority investment sector, but we use it as a transversal sector, because for agriculture, for energy, any sector, you need technology. This is why we don’t list is as a specific sector, but among those four priority sectors we have also sectors we’ve used the opportunity like education, we focus our forces on the four sectors we are talking about; it is our proactive promotion activities.
And it understands that your API organized an investment forum in Mali last December.
How did the forum go?
Quiet well, it was a big change we started to work on this project in 2015, because as I said the country faced political and security problems a few years before, and we saw that it was time to start new projects that will be a vehicle to speak on our country in a positive manner; so we started to work on it, and we were able to achieve our project in December. We held a forum on December 7 and 8 2017, and we attained all of our objectives. We were expecting 500 participants but finally got more than 1000, we were able to amass 70 million dollars in investment as a result of this forum. We had hundreds of B2B meetings, and around 50 Business deals self-driven B2B.
But, I will like to say more importantly of those concrete results, is the image we spread over the world, as I use to say during past years Mali use to be on TV, on newspaper for the wrong reasons; for bad news, but maybe for the first time since a long while Mali was the top of the news on good side; investment side. For me this is mainly one of the most important achievement we’ve made this far, so it was a good initiative and we recorded very good results.
Now, you are currently in Washington DC attending the fourth Annual Powering Africa Summit, how has the summit gone so far you, any interesting contact any good deals in the works for you.
This is my first time of attending this forum, and I was referred by one of my friends who use to attend, and he told me that it’s really interesting, and I came with the curiosity to see. The first day showed me he was right because this forum is a platform where you can meet key actors in the sector which is strategic for all of the continent, and we meet actors who know the continent, they use to operate, they know the challenges and we already have many meetings, B2B meetings and very interesting meetings.
So, any other projects that the API would be working on in the course of the year, any other big project that you have now?
Through the forum, we collected and worked on more than 200 projects, some investment, some technical partners, different needs, and we have all those projects on our website. Some are private and public project or both and we are trying to assist the owners to have finance or technical partners, and we are also assisting the state governors to promote government projects, huge projects like the first bridge in Bamako, the construction of the river bank in Bamako is some interesting project, the roads, rail roads, so many projects currently going on.
Mr. Moussa Toure thank you very much for talking to Pan African visions
Both Morocco and the United States/Canada/Mexico must submit their 2026 World Cup bid books by 16 March.
The 2026 finals will be the first to feature 48 teams, 16 more than the tally that will contest both this year’s tournament in Russia and the 2022 event in Qatar.
The North African nation is making a fifth bid to host the World Cup, having failed to land the 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010 editions.
Since none of the bidding nations are eligible to vote, Morocco will need to win 104 votes when the decision on who will host the 2026 finals is made in Russia on 13 June.
Earlier this week, the joint Canada-Mexico-US bid announced a reshuffle of its leadership, emphasising diversity as its leaders seek to attract voters.
The leaders of the US, Canada and Mexico federations will now serve as co-chairs of the bid, replacing former United States Soccer Federation chief Sunil Gulati, who steps down.
United 2026 said the changes reflect the “unity” at the highest levels of the joint bid, while some have seen the change in leadership as a strategic move to shift the perception of the bid as being a largely American-driven enterprise.
Blatter, who led Fifa for 17 years before being barred for ethics violations (that he is contesting) in 2015, was a central figure in organising the rotation system that eventually took the World Cup to Africa for the first time in 2010.
Ameenah Gurib-Fakim became Mauritius’s first elected female President in 2015
Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Africa’s only female head of state, is to quit over a financial row.
She has been accused of using a bank card provided by a charity to make personal purchases worth tens of thousands of dollars.
She is to step down after ceremonies to mark the 50th anniversary of the island’s independence next week.
Denying wrongdoing, she said she had refunded all the money, Reuters news agency reports.
Ms Gurib-Fakim is a renowned scientist and in 2015 became the first woman to be appointed to the ceremonial position of president of Mauritius.
“The president of the republic told me that she would resign from office and we agreed on the date of her departure,” Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth told reporters without giving the chosen date.
“The interest of the country comes first, and I am proud of Mauritius’s image as a model of living democracy in the world.”
He added it would take place before parliament returned at the end of the month.
The Mauritian daily L’Express published bank documents purporting to show Ms Gurib-Fakim had used a credit card given to her by the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) in London to buy thousands of dollars worth of clothes, jewellery and other personal items.
According to the paper, the card was given to her as part of her work as an unpaid director for the charity.
One of the organisation’s directors is Angolan businessman Alvaro Sobrinho who, the paper says, secured a permit to found an investment bank in Mauritius, prompting allegations of favouritism.
The king of Wakanda Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong’o.
As “Black Panther” nears a billion in box office worldwide, many Africans have flocked to theaters, sporting traditional African attires with pride to watch their brothers and sisters portrayed as superheroes, a narrative that has been lacking in popular culture.
With the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects reporting that three of the ten fastest growing economies are in Africa, “Black Panther” provides a vision of what African countries could look like if some things are done right.
The movie is filled with many lessons that African leaders and government officials can take to promote sustainable economic growth, peace and prosperity to build their Wakanda. Here are five:
Empower and elevate women, and ensure you surround yourself with them.
There is no escaping the power of women in “Black Panther.” The newly crowned Prince T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, surrounds himself with powerful women, who he leaned on for guidance, wisdom and strength.
Education can change everything, and technology has the power to be the great equalizer. Because of this, African leaders should focus on STEM at an early age so Africa does not fall behind in the technology sector. Leading this charge for STEM education in Africa is Rwanda.
The country has a strategic plan to transform its economy by 2020 and STEM education is at the nexus. Investing in STEM education will not only confront the rampant unemployment challenges we have, but it will also address the gaps in human resources in Africa to build infrastructure, manage natural resources, and control diseases.
African leaders must take immediate steps to ensure STEM is included in national curricula.
Use natural resources to develop your country, and keep them in the people’s hands for today and tomorrow.
Botswana also invested diamond revenues for future generations using a sovereign wealth fund called the Pula Fund. Botswana is paving the way for their youth to become educated and empowered, and their society to prosper. Other nations must learn from this, it’s the Wakanda way.
Respect cultures and traditions while modernizing and allow them to coexist with the basic tenets of democracy.
Democracy is essential for every country to aspire for. But it comes in many forms — it is not a one size fits all system. In Wakanda, culture and traditions were important.
The Wakandans followed them while evolving their country. They did not simply accept a new form of government because it worked for other societies. Africa has seen charismatic leaders elected democratically and celebrated by the West only for those leaders to change the rules to fit them.
Democracy can be manipulated. We saw that recently in Rwanda, and in Uganda for years. Wakanda seems to embrace and exhibit some of the basic tenets of democracy while respecting their culture and tradition. For example, while there were no elections, certain citizens could challenge the king to win the throne.
This was their form of election and it was valued and respected. While we modernize and develop our society, we should remember the positive traditions and cultures that got us here and preserve them as we modernize. This is a firm lesson for African leaders.
Embrace the natural habitat of the land while developing and building up.
In Wakandan architecture, we saw red dirt and market places while alongside super railways and skyscrapers.
Many roads in Africa are built with asphalt which is highly expensive and difficult to procure. Wakandans built using the natural habitat, and fortunately, this is possible in Africa. For example, the Nubian Vault technique has been used since the ancient kingdom of Nubia, located in the Nile Valley in Egypt and Sudan. Environmentalists laud this as environmentally friendly and sustainable, and can help mitigate the effects of climate change.
African leaders must support architectural innovation with their natural habitat.
“Black Panther” inspired me to imagine what Africa could be if our leaders take some bold and collective actions.
It also inspired me that we should all be a part of this Wakanda-like development journey by developing leaders, specifically in the public service, that will passionately serve their people, protect their natural resources, embrace innovation and preserve cultures and traditions that are worth preserving.
*Source CNN.Taa is a Liberian Entrepreneur, Advocate and Philanthropist and the founder and CEO of the Khana Group, a leading social impact research and consulting firm in Africa. Taa has consulted with McKinsey, Deloitte and other consulting firms and was recently awarded the Business Leadership Excellence Award and inducted into the African Leadership Magazine’s CEO Hall of Fame.
FILE (VOA)- Radio Miraya host Lubna Lasu broadcasts the Betna Weekend Edition program in the southern Sudanese city of Juba, April 10, 2010.
Juba – South Sudan’s media authority has suspended the UN – run known as Radio Miraya and ordered its frequency to be switched off in the country, citing failure to comply with directives to register in accordance with the provision of the media regulatory body.
This was announced in the press conference on Friday by Media Authority, asked the National Communication Authority to withdraw the frequency 101FM assigned to the UN radio station for non-compliance with conditions set for acquiring licenses for operation in the country.
The media regulatory body established by the government said the popular radio station should stop broadcasting with effect from today (Friday, March 9, 2018).
The media regulator accuses the UN- backed radio of non-compliance and refusing to be regulated under the country’s media laws.
Mr. Elijah Alier, managing director of the South Sudan Media Authority told a news conference that the radio station operated by the United Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS has failed to obtain a valid operation license.
Alier further says Radio Miyira journalists will not be allowed to cover stories until the suspension is lifted.
He denies criticism that the suspension of the radio station amounts to media censorship.
“This is to inform the public and media houses that the media authority has suspended the operation for persistent non-compliance and refusal to be regulated under the media laws in the Republic of South Sudan,” letter reads in part seen by Panafricanism.
According to the Media Authority’s suspension letter, the decision was taken following notifications starting on June 2017, September, 2017, November 2017 and February 2018.The management of Radio Miraya, the letter alleges has failed to respond in what authorities equate to violation and non-compliance with the media authority orders.
The suspension also came after the Country’s Information Minister and Government Spokesperson, Michael Makuei Lueth, who then sanctioned by the UN, had been threatened to shut down the station, earlier saying he would not be afraid to close down the UN-owned radio station meant for peace building.
However, UNMISS spokesperson Francisca Mold says the management of Radio is till in talks with government and that UN – radio will continue to operate.
Since the conflict erupted in 2013, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the government lead by President Salva Kiir have not been good terms, government has several accused the UNMISS of supporting the country’s rebels lead by former first vice President Dr. Riek Machar.
According to a UN human rights report released last month, Press freedom in South Sudan has been affected by the ongoing conflict.
In July 2017, South Sudan’s authorities said blocked access to some websites such as Sudantribune, Radio Tamazuj, Paanluel and others accusing them of “hostile” reporting.
In the aftermath of conflict, journalists in South Sudan were often complain of harassment and arbitrary detention by the security forces.
According to the Media Authority Act 2013, no one is allowed to provide broadcasting services in the country without valid license.
Moreover, the media body earlier this month, prevented a journalists who have not registered with them to cover a press conference held by the country’s Information Minister.
Scores of shop owners operating around the Nima private residence of Ghana’s President have been given up to next week March 15 to vacate the area.
Operatives of the national security have reportedly visited the area and giving out compensation packages to the shop owners as part of efforts to evict them from the enclave.
The compensation package ranges between GHC3000 and GHC10,000. The country’s forex against the US Dollar currently stands at GHC4.3 to a dollar.
However, the shop owners are grumbling over what they say is the woefully inadequate compensation considering the fact that their means of livelihood is being taken away from them.
“They have given us the money but we are not happy about the amount. Some of us have been here for more than 20 years and all we could get is GHC3000. How do I take care of my family of six with this small money? I have been selling Gari (cassava flakes) and Beans here for 22 years, now I have no place to go and sell and they want me to move by next week,” one of the affected persons said.
Sources familiar with the development say the President has out of sympathy resisted efforts by the national security to pack out the shop owners.
Meanwhile, there are still concerns over why the Ghanaian leader has refused to move to the official presidential residence – Flagstaff House- even though he works from there on daily basis.
A World Bank Strategic Country Diagnostics (SCD) of Ghana has discovered that poor management of the Economy and the Country’s Natural Resources are the main challenges hindering the sustainability of Ghana’s socioeconomic development efforts.
The research sponsored by the World Bank as well as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and International Development Association (IDA) focused on three thematic areas; Ghana’s state of development, why Ghana is where it is and the Pathway forward and Emerging Constraints.
Strategic Country Diagnostics among other functions identify the most important challenges and opportunities a country faces in achieving poverty reduction and shared prosperity in a sustainable way. It is based on analysis elaborated in close consultation with all stakeholders and aims to contribute to the government’s development planning process.
The SCD also serves as the basis for the World Bank Group’s Country Partnership Framework (CPF). The CPF acts as the guide to the World Bank Group on the kind of support it should offer to its member countries.
Findings of the Ghana Systematic Country Diagnostic
According to the Ghana specific diagnostics, the country by and large has been at the forefront of poverty reduction in Africa since the 1990s.
However, the study discovered that the poverty status of individuals in Ghana is strongly correlated with the type of employment they have such as being employed in the private sector, public sector or self-employed.
The study also identified declining government effectiveness, complex economic management of the natural resource-rich country, constraints on private sector growth and a costly large public sector are the reasons why Ghana is where it is in its poverty reduction efforts.
The report recommended three essential pathways that will propel Ghana to a State where its poverty reduction efforts can gain momentum.
The first is quality Labour-intensive growth.
At the micro level the report suggest that government support for the private sector needs to improve as that is sure way to speed up the growth process of the country.
It also recommended increase in education spending, access to land and access to electricity.
At the Macro level, the report said new systems need to be put in place for the management of the country’s natural resources. If these are carried out, the outcome would be poverty reduction through more and better jobs.
The second pathway according to the report is efficient public service provision. Transparent and accountable fiscal decentralization, government effectiveness and sector financial planning will result in Public services facilitated development and improved revenue mobilization.
The last is spatial equality and reduced vulnerability. The report said spatially equal services such as health, sanitation and water, social protection are key to the fight to reduce poverty.
If this is done, there would be more equal opportunities and access to services, and reduce disparity between urban and rural dwellers, the report added
The prizes were created by writer Donald Windham and also carry the name of his partner Sandy M Campbell. They were first awarded in 2013 to “provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns”.
Makumbi said news of the award came out of the blue. “It’s American, and normally it’s people who have got so many books [behind them],” she said. “So I’m surprised how I was one of them.”
Makumbi’s debut novel Kintu was first published in Kenya four years ago after British publishers rejected it for being “too African”. It was finally released in the UK this January.
The author said British publishers and readers like to have something they can relate to – be it Western characters or familiar settings and storylines – if they’re reading about Africa.
But she describes Kintu as “proper, proper Africa”.
The book conjures myths and legends to tell the story of a Ugandan family who believe they have been cursed over 250 years.
“I had really locked Europe out,” Makumbi says. “But it was a little bit too much – the language, the way I wrote it – they [Brits] were not used to that kind of writing. But they are beginning now to open up I think.
“Readers are realising, OK, if I want to explore Africa I’d rather be told from an African point of view rather than being told things that I’m expected to want to know.”
‘It’s about getting a paycheque’
Makumbi was a high school teacher before moving to the UK to pursue her dream of a writing career. She began by studying creative writing in Manchester, then wrote Kintu while doing a PhD in Lancaster.
The Windham Campbell Prize will help spread the word about the book – but for Makumbi, for now at least, the prize money will be the thing that changes her life.
“I would like to say it’s more about getting to be known and whatever, but mainly it’s about getting a paycheque,” she admits.
“It’s mainly about [doing] ordinary things that other people do that have a job. I have a partner but he’s not earning much and I’ve not been really pulling my weight.
“I’ve just been taking and taking, and we are a working class family, so it’s huge. And then, of course, now I can go and do research in different countries for my next project.”
‘Shocked’ by British life
She didn’t have to travel far to research a short story collection that will come out next January. It’s title is Love Made in Manchester.
“I write the stories as a way of writing back to Ugandans, informing them what happens to us,” she says. “I’m telling them, ‘You want to come to Britain? Hang on a minute. First read my story.'”
So what impression will Ugandans get of Britain if they do?
“It’s not the world that they’ve been told it is. When you’re in Uganda, Britain is the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, The Savoy, The Ritz – because this is how Britain markets itself.
“You never see the working class. That is what takes you by surprise. It’s just shocking.
“You come here and see the working class and you’re like, I should have paid attention to Dickens!”
Merck Foundation discusses their commitment to building healthcare capacity with the President of Niger
NIAMEY, Niger, March 8, 2018/ —
Merck Foundation, in partnership with the First Lady of Niger builds healthcare capacity in the country with special focus on Cancer, Diabetes and Infertility.
Merck Foundation appoints the first Lady of Niger, as an Ambassador of Merck More than a Mother.
Merck Foundation discusses their commitment to building healthcare capacity with the President of Niger.
Merck Foundation appointed the First Lady of Niger H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou as an Ambassador of ‘Merck More Than a Mother’
Merck (www.Merck.com) launched their Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com) in Niger in partnership with the First Lady of Niger and their Ministry of Health (www.NigerStateMoH.org). During the launch event Merck Foundation, a non-profit organization and a subsidiary of Merck KGaA Germany, marked ‘International women’s Day’ in Niger to empower infertile women through “Merck More Than a Mother” campaign.
During the event, Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees emphasized, “We are very proud to launch our Merck Foundation in partnership with the First Lady of Niger and Ministry of Health to build healthcare capacity, improve access to Cancer and Diabetes care and to empower infertile women in the country.”
Dr. Rasha Kelej CEO of Merck Foundation explained, “We are very proud to appoint H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou, the First Lady of The Republic of Niger, as an ambassador of ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign, to work closely with Merck Foundation in defining interventions to break the stigma around childless women across the country. Through our partnership, we will transform the lives of those unprivileged women, women who suffered all their lives from the Infertility stigma.”
L-R) Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees, Her Excellency, the First Lady of Niger, H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou and Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation
Her Excellency, the First Lady of Niger, H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou emphasized, “I truly value our partnership with Merck Foundation. I firmly believe that building professional capacity is a good strategy to help our government to improve access to healthcare in our country. I will also work closely with Merck foundation to break the stigma around infertility at all levels by raising awareness, training the skills of local experts and by supporting childless women in starting their small businesses.”
She added “Currently, we don’t have any oncologist or fertility specialists in Niger, we even do not have cancer care facility and fertility clinic in the country. Merck Foundation makes history in the Niger, through its ‘Merck Oncology Fellowship Program’ and ‘Merck More Than a Mother’. They will provide training to the first oncologists and fertility specialists for Niger.
L-R) Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation, Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees discussed long-term commitment to healthcare capacity building with the President of Niger H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou
“As per the information received from the Ministry of Health, for 22 Million population, Niger has only six oncologists, one hematologist, and 12 radiotherapists. This gap is of course not enough to give proper access to quality and equitable cancer care across the country. We hope we can significantly increase the number of oncologists in the next three years.” Rasha Kelej added.
Merck foundation is committed to providing one-year to two-years Oncology Fellowship Programs and Clinical Fertility Management Training to four candidates from Niger in 2018 and is determined to provide training to more candidates in the future.
Merck Foundation met the President of Niger H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou to discuss and underscore our long-term commitment to healthcare capacity building, and empowering women and youth in Niger through our impactful programs; Merck Cancer Access Program and Merck More Than a Mother in partnership with the First Lady of Niger H.E. Mrs. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou
Moreover, Merck Foundation is committed to contributing toward advancing Diabetes Care in Niger, by providing online Diabetes Management Diploma in the French language, for medical postgraduates in Niger and other Francophone African countries, so that they can learn more about diagnosis and treatment of diabetes. The course is accredited by ‘Royal College of General Practitioners’ in the UK.
About Merck Foundation in Niger:
Merck Foundation is going to provide the oncology and clinical fertility training to the following healthcare professionals from Niger:
1. Dr. Mamadou Oumarou Ramatou- Adult medical oncology
2. Dr. Mahamadou Aichatou- Paediatric Oncology
3. Dr. Alhousseini Alhassane Laila- Radiation oncology
4. Dr. Moussa Soffo Issa- Radiation technician
Clinical Fertility Management Training
1. Dr. Abdoulaye Maiga
2. Dr. Barkire Fatoumatou
3. Dr. Lawali Chekarao Mamadou.
So far, candidates from Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Namibia, Tanzania, Ghana, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Botswana, Liberia, Rwanda, Kenya, Chad, Niger, Guinea, Gambia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Nepal have benefitted from Merck Foundation’s training programs in fertility or oncology fellowships. Merck Foundation aims to expand to more African and Asian countries soon.
(L-R) Hon. Dr. Idi Illiassou Mainassara, Minister of Public Health for Niger, Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E.Merck KG and the Chairman of Merck Foundation Board of Trustees and Dr. Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation discussing Merck Foundation’s long-term commitment to building healthcare capacity in Niger
The Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), established in 2017, is a philanthropic organization that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to innovative healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website. Please go to www.Merck-Foundation.com to read more and/or register online to interact and exchange experience with our registered members.
Merck Foundation is a subsidiary of Merck KGaA Germany
Merck (www.Merck.com) is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2016, Merck generated sales of € 15.0 billion in 66 countries.
Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials
In Africa 6000 girls are mutilated everyday, 200 million women live with the effects of FGM/C, and 30 million girls are still at risk over the next decades
DAKAR, Senegal, March 8, 2018/ — African women take the lead to end female genital mutilation and early child marriage in Africa through the strategic launch of THE BIG SISTER MOVEMENT.
The BIG SISTER MOVEMENT (BSM) is the largest grassroots coalition of Local NGOs led by women survivors of FGM/C’s from The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Kenya and Somalia with the aim of giving back the testimonies and scope of actions to survivors, to enable them to tell their own stories, advocate and find grassroots solutions to the issue of FGM/C in Africa.
“For too long, international organizations have been leading the campaign in Africa, implementing programs together with local activists in our communities. The time has come for Africans across the Continent and the world to be at the forefront of the campaign to end female genital mutilation and early child marriage in Africa by 2030”, according to Jaha Dukureh, a Founding Coalition Member & 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
“African women tend to be perceived as women who need to be saved. They are never considered as the actual saviours.This is what the Big Sister Movement is about. This is the reason for us choosing the International Women’s day to launch our movement, precisely to empower this vision”, added Augustine Abu, a BSM Coalition member.
In Africa 6000 girls are mutilated everyday, 200 million women live with the effects of FGM/C, and 30 million girls are still at risk over the next decades.
The Big Sister Movement is connected by the common goal to ban FGM/C in Africa and to ensure that the ban is implemented across all AU Member Countries where the practice is still dominant through the strategic training and empowerment of grassroots leaders and campaigner
Safe Hands for Girls (www.SafeHandsForGirls.com) was founded in 2015 by Jaha Dukureh to help bring an end to female genital mutilation (FGM) and other forms of gender-violence.
Index shows Ghana has the highest percentage of women business owners worldwide. Uganda is third overall.
Africa – 8 March 2018 – Following the release of the Mastercard Index of Women’s Entrepreneurship (MIWE) today, it was revealed that 46.4 percent of businesses in Ghana are owned by women, making it one of the top performing African countries highlighted in the index.
The MIWE is a weighted index that helps to better understand and identify factors and conditions that are most conducive to closing the gender gap among business owners in any given economy. The three factors include Women’s Advancement Outcomes, Access to Knowledge and Financial Services, and Supporting Entrepreneurial Factors. The Index examined 57 different economies around the globe, including Botswana, Ethiopia, South Africa and Uganda; with Ghana, Nigeria and Malawi as new additions.
Nigeria and Ghana scored particularly well in terms of advancement outcomes: the women entrepreneurial activity rate was 100 percent, with overall scores in this regard coming in at 62.4 percent and 59.1 percent respectively. African countries also scored highly in women labour force participation – with Malawi at 100 percent, Ghana at 96.1 percent, and Ethiopia at 86.6 percent.
South Africa excelled in sharing knowledge assets with women and providing financial access, with a score of 84.3 percent– coming in 6th out of 57 countries. Botswana followed closely with a score of 73 percent. Botswana and South Africa were the highest scoring African countries in the Index overall with scores of 66.5 percent and 64.2 percent respectively.
When compared to other African markets surveyed Botswana leads the charge with the highest rate of Supporting Entrepreneurial Conditions, at 68.1 percent, this is an increase of 2 percent from last year. Indicating that the country has positive Cultural Perceptions of Women Entrepreneurs and Quality of Governance. The continent scored highly in terms of women Financial Inclusion with South Africa at 98.7 percent, Ghana scoring 84.6 percent, and 77.1 percent in Ethiopia.
The Index results revealed that female entrepreneurs in developing countries are driven by grit and determination, along with a desire to provide for their families. The findings reinforce that women entrepreneurs are the backbone of economic growth and powerful engines of development and financial inclusion, especially in Africa. The Index also showed an interesting contrast: women’s progress and advancement as entrepreneurs is not necessarily aligned to the pace of their own country’s economic growth and wealth. In fact, the highest rates of ownership are seen in developing economies where entrepreneurship is typically necessity-driven.
Women entrepreneurs in Africa and other developing markets have proven to be equally vibrant, resourceful and innovative in finding opportunities to improve their own lives as well as create a better future for their children.
“Botswana, Ghana and Uganda shine as examples of women’s determination to provide for themselves and their families and Africa excels at creating strong women entrepreneurs with the drive to succeed even in the face of financial, regulatory or technical constraints,” says Beatrice Cornacchia, Head of Marketing and Communications, Middle East and Africa, Mastercard.
An interesting outcome of the Index is that cultural perceptions of women entrepreneurs in Africa are predominantly positive – at 69.1 percent in Uganda and 67.2 percent in Nigeria, this is well above their Middle Eastern counterparts.
According to the Index, some women’s inclination towards business ownership may be undermined by limited access to education, financial and entrepreneurial opportunities. These are by no means only African – or developing – countries challenges, however. Women entrepreneurs even in developed nations face cultural and gender biases that restrict them from opening or expanding their own businesses.
These constraints are acting as barriers preventing women from starting businesses in the majority of the 57 countries surveyed. In New Zealand, the top ranked country overall for example, results revealed that society is less receptive towards female entrepreneurs because they are not perceived as having the same level of know-how as men. In Portugal, which ranked 6th on the Index with a score of 69.1 percent, women are not only constrained by a lack of cultural acceptance, but difficulties in getting bank loans, insurance, or trade finance. Even Botswana – which emerged as the top ranked African country on the Index at 14 with a score of 66.5 percent – has seen an increasing gender bias that acts as a barrier to women opening businesses.
This indicates that changes need to be implemented not just within society itself, but at economic, financial and political levels. “This requires collective action from public and private sector partners to implement initiatives that provide African women with the necessary education, training and mentorship to develop financial literacy to start and run successful and sustainable businesses,” Cornacchia concludes.
The Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs tracks female entrepreneurs’ ability to capitalize on opportunities granted through various supporting conditions within their local environments and is the weighted sum of three components: 1) Women’s Advancement Outcomes (degree of bias against women as workforce participants, political and business leaders, as well as the financial strength and entrepreneurial inclination of women), 2) Knowledge Assets and Financial Assets (degree of access women have to basic financial services, advanced knowledge assets, and support for small and medium enterprises), and 3) Supporting Entrepreneurial Conditions (overall perceptions on the ease on conducting business locally, quality of local governance, women’s perception of safety levels and cultural perception of women’s household financial influence).
The Index uses 12 indicators and 25 sub-indicators to look at how 57 economies across Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, North America, Latin America and Europe, representing 78.6 percent of the world’s female labour force, differ in terms of the level of the three components.
Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs – Top 10 markets with the strongest supporting conditions and opportunities for women to thrive as entrepreneurs
New Zealand – 74.2
Sweden – 71.3
Canada – 70.9
United States – 70.8
Singapore – 69.2
Portugal – 69.1
Australia – 68.9
Belgium – 68.7
Philippines – 68.0
United Kingdom – 67.9
Women business owners as a percentage of all business owners – Top 10 markets
Ghana – 46.4%
Russia – 34.6%
Uganda – 33.8%
New Zealand – 33.0%
Australia – 32.1%
Vietnam – 31.3%
Poland – 30.3%
Spain – 29.4%
Portugal – 28.7%
Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. Our global payments processing network connects consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.
JUBA, South Sudan – File photo shows Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (L) and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir shaking hands at Kiir’s presidential office in Juba in April 2013. (Kyodo)
Juba – South Sudan has formally applied observer status in 22-nation regional organization of the Arab League, reported the official Egyptian Middle East news agency (MENA) on Tuesday.
The League’s main goal is to draw closer the relations between member states and to safeguard sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries.
South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Spokesperson, Amb Mawien Makol says the country have not applied for membership but to be observer in Arab League.
He argued that the decision for South Sudan to have observer status in the Arab bloc was to discuss important issues including waters of the Nile River and security, these issues need South Sudan to be present in Arab League.
The Country’s diplomat said his government haven’t submitted an officially application for membership in Arab League, but [government] was keen only in obtaining the observer status in the regional organization.
“We haven’t applied for a membership. We are not a full member. We would not pay fees to the League, so we are not required to commit to other things,” Amb. Mawien told Panafricanism.
He said South Sudanese ambassador to Cairo will be present when issues to do with South Sudan are discussed by the Arab League body.
MENA quoted report that South Sudan’s request to join the regional body would be referred to the Arab League Council which was scheduled to hold its 149th session this week at the level of the foreign ministers. If approved, South Sudan would be the 23rd member of the regional organization.
The Arab League’s current member states include: Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq, Syria (membership suspended), Tunisia, Oman, Lebanon, Qatar, the Comoros, Sudan, Palestine, Algeria, Mauritania and Libya.
Besides Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti and Comoros are the other East African states members of the League of Arab States.
The use of the Arabic language as an official language is a prerequisite to joining the Arab body.
This has been talked point for South Sudanese officials since the secession from Sudan in July 2011 to join Arab League States.
First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Rebecca Akufo-Addo
The First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Rebecca Akufo-Addo has disclosed that the elimination of child marriages in Ghana and the retention of girls in school is top on her priority list.
Delivering her welcome address at an event to commemorate International Women’s Day under the theme “Press for Progress”, Mrs. Akufo-Addo said the inability of Ghana to retain her girls in school directly impacts on the high levels of child marriages and teenage pregnancies the nation is saddled with.
The First Lady emphasized that the current policy of free education in Ghana from nursery to Senior High School (SHS) will be meaningless if the country cannot get its young ladies to take advantage of it.
This year’s forum to make international Women’s Day had Ghana’ Second Lady, Samira Bawumia, former first ladies, Fulera Limann and Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, as well as Former Second Lady, Hajia Alima Mahama. Chairperson of the Elections Management Body, Charlotte Osei was also in attendance.
Female Justices of Ghana’s Supreme Court, Queen mothers, female members of the Diplomatic Corps in Ghana, market women, and female industry players also participated in the event.
Ugandans, who have two actors featured in Black Panther – Daniel Kaluuya and Florence Kasumba – have been busy showing why the African country Wakanda is actually Uganda, since the movie premiered on the continent two weeks ago.
With some scenes from the movie shot on location from Mountain Rwenzori and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park, in southwest Uganda, who can blame them for staking their claim?
Ugandans are also not taking the rhyming of Wakanda with Uganda for granted, nor have they glossed over the fact that Kaluuya’s character in the movie is called W’kabi, (read, Wakabi).
And the British-born actor himself put a Ugandan seal on the movie when he turned up for the world premiere of the box office record-breaking movie dressed in a traditional kanzu. Some have already taken to social media, wooing the world to come vacation in Uganda and see more of Wakanda.
Africans just cannot get enough of the first Marvel superhero movie with a predominantly black cast. In Ugandan cinemas, tickets are still selling out like hot cake, as even those who have watched it claim to return for second screenings of the movie that casts Africa and Pan-Africanism in positive light.
Hollywood movies set in Africa often depict the continent as a war-torn environment filled with poverty and suffering. Black Panther has received rave reviews from critics and cinemagoers that have flocked its premieres in Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa, among others.
Some of the cast flew to South Africa for the premiere, with Kenyan-born actress Lupita Nyong’o, tweeting “the excitement is spellbinding”.
In Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, film fans, Nollywood stars and comedians were dressed in traditional robes and gowns, with some opting to wear specially-made attire in keeping with the film’s futuristic take on African garments. Kaluuya had set the fashion pace at the world premiere with his kanzu worn with a maroon velvet jacket.
“Black Panther is a film that celebrates black excellence…it is especially exciting,” said Bolaji Kekere-Ekun, a 33-year-old filmmaker. “The people who made the film were very specific about the references they used in relationship to Africa. They are pulling from the best fashion and art.”
Black Panther is set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda. It tells the story of the new king, T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), who is challenged by rival factions.
“We put our heart and soul into it because we knew it was a great opportunity,” Boseman, 41, said during a Twitter Q&A. “But to see how people have responded to it, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s crazy.”
The fictional African country is depicted as a verdant land with stunning waterfalls where spacecraft designed like tribal masks soar over a modern metropolis.
Directed by black director Ryan Coogler and featuring actors including Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett, Nyong’o and Forest Whittaker, the film has received widespread critical acclaim after years of criticism about the under-representation of black people in Hollywood.
Black Panther scored the largest box office debuts ever in West Africa and East Africa, generating about $400,000 and $300,000, respectively.
Big-screen company Imax Corp said its theaters in Kenya and Nigeria had their biggest results ever with Black Panther.
With more than five million posts, Black Panther is also the most tweeted-about movie of 2018 – ahead even of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Various analysts said they expect Black Panther to do for ethnic diversity what last Warner Bros smash hit Wonder Woman did for women – which was to persuade film executives that blockbuster movies don’t need white male leads to sell tickets.
The film’s release comes less than two months after US president Donald Trump was quoted calling African countries “shitholes”.
In many corners of the world, 2018 is shaping up to be yet another disappointing year, with inequality and poverty continuing to fuel anger and populism. While Africa will not be entirely immune from such developments, its inhabitants have at least eight good reasons – far more than most people elsewhere – to be optimistic.
GENEVA – We are still near the start of 2018, and already it feels like tension and disorder will be the year’s defining characteristics. From anti-immigration policies in the United States to flaring geopolitical hotspots in the Middle East and East Asia, disruption, upheaval, and uncertainty seem to be the order of the day.
But at least one metric offers reason for cautious optimism: economic growth. The International Monetary Fund estimatesthat global growth will reach 3.7% this year, up from 3.6% in 2017. As Christine Lagarde, the Fund’s managing director, put it in a speech in December, “The sun is shining through the clouds and helping most economies generate the strongest growth since the financial crisis.”
It was fitting that Lagarde made that observation in Addis Ababa, because it is in Africa where the rays of prosperity are shining brightest. In fact, I predict that 2018 will be a breakout year for many – though not all – African economies, owing to gains in eight key areas.
For starters, Africa is poised for a modest, if fragmented, growth recovery. Following three years of weak economic performance, overall growth is expected to accelerate to 3.5% this year, from 2.9% in 2017. This year’s projected gains will come amid improved global conditions, increased oil output, and the easing of drought conditions in the east and south.
To be sure, growth will be uneven. While nearly a third of African economies will grow by around 5%, slowdowns are likely in at least a dozen others. Sharp increases in public debt, which has reached 50% of GDP in nearly half of Sub-Saharan countries, are particularly worrying. But, overall, Africa is positioned for a positive year.
Second, Africa’s political landscape is liberalizing. Some of Africa’s longest-serving presidents – including Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Angola’s José Eduardo dos Santos, and the Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh – exited in 2017. In South Africa, Jacob Zuma’s resignation allowed Cyril Ramaphosa to become president. In January, Liberians witnessed their country’s first peaceful transfer of power since 1944, when former soccer star George Weah was sworn into office.
*CAROLINE KENDE-ROBB , former chief adviser to the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, is a senior fellow at the African Center for Economic Transformation. This piece was originally published in Project Syndicate
Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Workneh Gebeyehu (center R) walks the red carpet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as he arrives to begin a six-day trip in Africa, landing at Addis Ababa International Airport in Addis Ababa, March 7, 2018.
China and Russia are working to expand their influence across Africa, hoping to outspend or out-compete the United States, U.S. officials warn, describing it as part of a larger effort by both countries to reshape the world order.
For months, top national security officials have been talking about the reemergence of what they describe as a great power competition, calling out China and Russia as the two countries doing the most to counter the United States.
Officials say the efforts by Beijing and Moscow are both regional and global, with both pursuing strategies to deny the U.S. access to conflict zones in times of crisis and to commercial markets in times of peace.
And in Africa, both are trying to portray themselves as viable, if not essential, alternatives to the United States.
On Tuesday, the commander of U.S. forces in Africa told lawmakers it is now critical for African countries to know Washington can and will remain a steadfast partner.
“It’s important that we’re there, that we’re present and that the African people see our commitment,” U.S. Africa Command’s Gen. Thomas Waldhauser told the House Armed Services Committee.
China’s expanding influence
Concerns about China’s ever-expanding reach into Africa are not new. U.S. intelligence warned this past September (2017) that Beijing’s first overseas military base, at Doraleh, in the east African nation of Djibouti, was likely to be the first of many.
“China seeks to build [military bases] around the world, creating new areas of intersecting, and potentially conflicting, security interests between China and the United States,” an intelligence official said at the time.
For U.S. Africa Command, perhaps no situation is as concerning as the one in Djibouti, home to Camp Lemonnier, the only permanent U.S. military installation on the African continent and a hub for U.S. counterterror operations.
Gen. Waldhauser described the Chinese military base at Doraleh as, “right outside our gates.” And despite some efforts to work with the Chinese, in areas like medical aid and training, U.S. defense officials remain wary.
“We are not naïve,” said Waldhauser Tuesday. “We are taking significant steps on the counterintelligence side so that we have all the defenses that we need.”
But China’s military might in Africa, including its approximately 2,500 peacekeepers, is not what has U.S. defense, intelligence and diplomatic officials most concerned.
Rather, they point to the way Beijing relies on economic aid and promises of development to bring countries like Djibouti into its sphere of influence.
“The Chinese there are building facilities. They’re building a shopping mall. They built a soccer stadium,” Waldhauser said. “They built the infrastructure for communications in Djibouti.”
“When we talk about influence and access, this is a classic example,” he added. “We’ll never outspend the Chinese.”
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday went as far as to accuse China of “encouraging dependency” in its approach to the continent.
“Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa’s infrastructure gap but its approach has led to mounting debt and few, if any, jobs in most countries. When coupled with the political and fiscal pressure, this endangers Africa’s natural resources and its long-term economic, political stability,” noted Tillerson in a speech hours before leaving on a five-country African trip.
Other U.S. officials have also raised concerns about the high levels of debt some nations are incurring as they increasingly accept Chinese loans. By some U.S. estimates, Djibouti, which is home to the U.S. military base, owes more than $1.2 billion to Beijing.
That has sparked fears among some U.S. lawmakers that China could make a play to take control of Djibouti’s key port, the Doraleh Container Terminal.
Djibouti took control of the port citing a contract dispute with the former operator, Dubai-based DP World.
“Reports that I’ve read say that they didn’t seize it for purposes of operating it for profit, but that they actually intend to gift it to China,” Republican Representative Bradley Byrne (from Louisiana) said during Tuesday’s hearing with Africa Command’s Gen. Waldhauser.
“The Chinese aren’t there for purely charitable reasons,” Byrne said. “We all would recognize that.”
U.S. defense officials admit that if China does take over the port and decides to impose any restrictions, the consequences could be significant – impacting the military’s ability to refuel ships and to resupply Camp Lemonnier and other outposts across Africa.
Russia’s focus on Africa
Russia, too, is making Africa more of a focus.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visits Africa this week, starting with a stop in Zimbabwe, where Moscow has been cultivating economic ties, including a $3 billion investment in platinum mining, while also pursuing deeper military ties.
There has also been extensive Russian outreach to northern African nations, particularly countries like Libya which border on the Mediterranean.
“Our concern would be their ability to influence and be on the southern flank of NATO, and also them to kind of squeeze us out, if you will, by them taking a prominent role,” said U.S. Africa Command’s Waldhauser.
Russian officials say they have no plans to back down.
“African countries view the development of cooperation in the military and technical sphere as an instrument of ensuring their sovereignty, independence and countering the pressure of Western countries,” Andrei Kemarksy, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Africa Department told the Tass news agency last month.
“We are training both military and police personnel for peacekeeping operations,” Kemarksy added.
Africa is projected to have over 840 million youth by 2050 with the continent having the youngest population on earth
The African Development Bank and its East and North African Governors have stressed the need for urgent measures to match the continent’s growing population and youth unemployment
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, March 7, 2018/ — The African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) and its East and North African Governors have stressed the need for urgent measures to match the continent’s growing population and youth unemployment, which they likened to a “ticking time bomb.”
The meeting described the continent’s growing young population as a potential growth engine for the world.
“The good news is that the solution is within our reach and will require investments,” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.
At the end of a two-day consultation at the headquarters of the Bank in Abidjan, CÕte d’Ivoire, the Bank and the Governors discussed strategizes for closing Africa’s $170 billion infrastructure investment gap.
To bridge the investment gap, ensure inclusive growth, and create employment for the continent’s population, the meeting endorsed the African Development Bank-led African Investment Forum and described it as a timely opportunity to catalyze investments into projects and attract social impact financing to Africa.
Tanzania’s Minister for Finance and Planning, Isdor Mpango, called for closer involvement of the private sector in financing development on the continent.
“The African Development Bank is well positioned to advise and assist Governments and the private sector to come up with bankable projects,” Mpango said, calling for direct resources to provide budget support and investment opportunities.”
Through the African Investment Forum, scheduled for November 7-9, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Bank and its partners intend to showcase bankable projects, attract financing, and provide platforms for investing across Africa. The forum will bring together the African Development Bank and other global multilateral financial institutions to de-risk investments at scale.
“A uniqueness of the African Investment Forum is that there will be no speeches. The only speeches will be transactions,” said President Adesina.
Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Claver Gatete said: “The African Development Bank has already discussed the concept of the African Investment Forum with us. The Rwandan Government takes this Forum very seriously.”
“Jobs will come from industrialization. The new approach using the African Investment Forum to de-risk the sector and attract investors is the way to go,” said Kiplagat Rotich, Kenyan Finance Minister.
13 per cent of the world’s population is estimated to live in sub-Saharan Africa today. That number is projected to more than double by 2050. Four billion (or 36 per cent of the world’s population) could live in the region by 2100, according to the UN Population Division. Africa is projected to have over 840 million youth by 2050 with the continent having the youngest population on earth.
According to Adesina, “We have 12 years left to the SDGs. It is an alarm bell because if Africa does not achieve the SDGs, the world won’t achieve them. The African Development Bank is accelerating development across Africa through the High 5s. We are deepening our reforms. We deepened our disbursements to the highest levels ever last year and we are leveraging more resources for Africa.”
Tunisia’s Finance Minister Zied Ladhari recalled how the Bank’s 11-year temporary relocation to his country helped strengthen the bonds between them. “We share the Bank’s vision. Africa is the continent of the future. This is a great Africa moment with the Bank at the centre. Unleashing the potential of African economies is a task which the Bank must accomplish.”
As part of the Bank’s High 5 agenda, 13 million African women have benefitted from new electricity connections and 23 million from improvements in agriculture. Also, 10 million African women have benefited from investee projects
An analysis of the African Development Bank’s impact from 2010-2017 indicates that 27 million Africans gained access to new electricity connections. 899,000 small businesses were provided with financial services. 35 million have benefitted from improved access to water and sanitation.
“With the Bank’s support, Somalia has evolved from a failed to a fragile state,” asserted Somalia’s Finance Minister, Abdirahman Beileh. “The African Development Bank has been with us throughout. Together we can reach the bright light at the end of the tunnel.”
Algeria’s Finance Minister, Abderahmane Raouia, said “The biggest challenge for Africa today is job creation. It is a stake of stability and a lever to pull economic growth upwards. We must offer job opportunities for young people to convince them to stay here on the continent.”
According to Simon Mizrahi, Director, Delivery, Performance Management and Results, the Bank needs to move from billions to trillions in its funding and leveraging effect.
Egypt’s Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire, Mohamed El-Hamzawi, who represented the Finance Minister, said the country has seen two revolutions in 2011 and 2014. He thanked the Bank for supporting the country’s macroeconomic stabilization, financial reforms, infrastructure, and energy projects, among others.
Morocco’s Economy and Finance Minister, Mohammed Boussaid, praised the Bank’s ambition for Africa, and underscored its support for energy, agriculture and infrastructure projects. He said “a capital increase today is not a choice, it is a necessity. Today, the leading export sector in Morocco no longer belongs to traditional sectors, such as phosphates, but to the automotive industry. This generates jobs and adds value for sustainable and robust growth.”
With a substantive capital increase, the African Development will be able to execute its robust pipeline of operations (15bn in 2018 alone), including infrastructure and regional integration projects. The prospects for 2018-2020 are bright, with 50.3 million people benefitting from improved access to transport compared to 14 million in 2017. Also, more than 35 million people are expected to benefit from new or improved electricity connections, in contrast to 4.4 million delivered in 2017.
The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 37 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.
Clockwise from top left: Sanford Bigger’s “Bam”; a bodypainting work by Laolu Senbanjo; the cover of Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death; Janelle Monae’s album The ArchAndroid; poster from Black Panther; Awol Erizku’s “Girl With A Bamboo Earring”.
A decade ago, superhero films were almost universally about white male characters, but the buzz around Black Panther reveals a growing appetite for art that pays homage to black history and black power. Within 24 hours of its release, the Marvel film had set a new sales record, helping to mainstream the Afrofuturism movement.
The term Afrofuturism, coined in 1993, seeks to reclaim black identity through art, culture, and political resistance. It is an intersectional lens through which to view possible futures or alternate realities, though it is rooted in chronological fluidity. That’s to say it is as much a reflection of the past as a projection of a brighter future in which black and African culture does not hide in the margins of the white mainstream.
When I grew up in 1970s Nigeria, the country hosted Festac ’77, a famous celebration of African history and culture that welcomed greats from Stevie Wonder to Miriam Makeba. I recall going to the National Arts Theatre and watching Ipi Tombi, a South African musical. The imagery from that experience jumpstarted my career as a director nearly 40 years later.
A parade as part of the Festac ’77 festival, a month long celebration also known as the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture.
In that era, hope of Africa’s promise was high, but images of the Great African nation, a model of black modernity, died soon after during structural adjustment in the 1980s. Shrinking budgets left little space to dream about fine art or literature.
In Black Panther, the imaginary kingdom of Wakanda – like the fantastical realms of African-American author N.K. Jemisin – resurrects a vision of black sovereignty and success that has long been dormant. As the Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor says, “African science fiction’s blood runs deep, and it’s old, and it’s ready to come forth. And when it does, imagine the new technologies, ideas and sociopolitical changes it will inspire.”
Wakanda, for example, is the world’s most technologically-advanced country. This may seem a far cry from typical depictions of poverty-stricken Africa. However, as it becomes a truly digital-first continent, Afrofuturist films like Black Panther may just be giving us a glimpse at the future.
It can be hard to conjure up images of illustrious black royalty in a present that is fraught with intercommunal tensions. In the past year, racial inequality has been laid bare, from South Africa, where #RhodesMustFall challenged the remnants of brutal colonisation, to the US, where white supremacy groups have come out of the shadows.
Given the sometimes bleak present-day circumstances of Afro-descended people, Afrofuturism is a chance to envision a radical and progressive vision of blackness – one in which justice reigns in superheroes and where black creativity is mystical and fascinating. In this space, black life matters.
The body artwork of the Nigerian artist Laolu Senbanjo (above), for example, paints spiritual motifs on famous figures and reclaims African art in an overtly white culture. Meanwhile, Sanford Bigger’s 2015 work, Bam, features statues “re-sculpted” by real bullets and subtly calls out police brutality in America. These artworks are rooted in techniques and traditions of the diaspora, but are resolutely forward-looking.
Black history often lives in the shadows of modern consciousness. Afrofuturism is a means to discover that history in an impactful and engaging way. Musicians such as Janelle Monae and filmmakers like Ryan Coogler create new vehicles to challenge the status quo.
Time is not linear in this genre. An imagined future can impact the present as it unearths a buried African past. Afrofuturism pieces together parts of a history that people were not privy to as their stories had been sidelined for so long.
Afrofuturist novels in particular offer a unique platform to shed light on Africa’s history. Consider Kindred by Octavia Butler, in which a woman is transported from 1970s California to Africa at the height of the slave trade; or Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death, about a woman tormented by her sorcerer father in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic Sudan.
Afrofuturism is a channel through which artists can go back in time to give old works of art a new, decidedly African identity. This is the case, for example, with Awol Erizku’s distinctive painting Girl With a Bamboo Earring, a 2012 interpretation of Vermeer’s famous Girl With a Pearl Earring. Like the historical recovery projects black intellectuals have engaged in for over 200 years, Afrofuturism does more than fight the erasing of black contributions to global history: it empowers and reimagines the past for lasting cultural impact.
If life truly imitates art, then art must lead the way in inclusiveness and representations that honour all of us. For Afrofuturism to function not as mere fantasy but as a revelation, it must be mainstreamed by producers and publishers and made equal to white artistic expression. History has been edited and the present is a silencer. But if fact follows fiction, the future will belong to Africa and our storytellers.
(CNN)Secretary of State Rex Tillerson emphasized the real and potential threats posed by extremist groups in sub-Saharan Africa in a wide-ranging speech Tuesday, which centered on the administration’s plans to help African governments strengthen their institutions and governance.
Speaking at George Mason University just hours before he heads to the region for his first official visit, Tillerson spoke of the immense challenges and opportunities presented by huge population growth in Africa, which could threaten global security in the decades ahead.
“The growing population of young people, if left without jobs and a hope for the future, will create new ways for terrorists to exploit the next generation, subverting stability and derailing democratic governments,” said Tillerson. “Leaders will be challenged to innovate to manage limited financial resources they have.”
He recalled the attacks on the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in the late 1990s and more recent attacks, such as those perpetrated by Boko Haram in Nigeria. He further pointed to the threat posed by ISIS and al Qaeda-affiliated groups on the continent.
“To prevail against such evil forces, the United States has committed to working with African partners to rid the continent and the world of terrorism by addressing drivers of conflict that lead to radicalization and recruitment in the first place, and building the institutional law enforcement capacity of African nations,” said Tillerson. “We want to help African states provide security for their citizens in a lawful manner.”
He praised the role the African Union and G5 Sahel Group have taken on the security and counterterrorism front. Last year, Tillerson pledged $60 million from the US to the G5 security force.
Tillerson said a central pillar of the Trump administration’s policy toward Africa is to make its countries “more resilient and more self-sufficient” to meet this challenge.
“The United States’ role in these and other regional and multilateral efforts is to build capacity — not dependency — so our partners can provide for their own security. That’s true of our approach to peacekeeping on the continent as well,” said Tillerson.
In his speech, Tillerson announced nearly $533 million in additional humanitarian assistance “to fight famine and food insecurity, and address other needs resulting from conflicts in Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Lake Chad Basin.”
“The American people, as we always have been, are there to partner with African countries to ensure their most vulnerable populations receive life-saving assistance,” said Tillerson. “However, this assistance will not solve these ongoing conflicts, but only buy us time — time to pursue diplomatic solutions.”
Tillerson’s visit to the region is an opportunity for him to strengthen the administration’s relationships with leaders on the continent, some of whom were openly disturbed by President Donald Trump’s reported disparaging remarks in January about African countries and Haiti.
Many African countries ‘holding back’ on North Korea
Tillerson also spoke of the administration’s peaceful pressure campaign targeting North Korea, stressing — as he often does — the need to ensure the campaign is global in nature.
“North Korea threatens the entire global community through its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs and proliferation activities, including its arms exports to Africa,” said Tillerson. “It doesn’t just involve our allies in Europe or Asia. It doesn’t just include countries with longstanding ties to the DPRK, like China and Russia. This is and must be a global effort.”
“Nations in Africa need to do more,” said Tillerson, noting that “many African nations are holding back.”
Governments across Africa have been conducting business with the rogue regime in Pyongyang for many years, recently attracting the attention of the United Nations Panel of Experts on North Korea.
The State Department has been pushing these governments to cut trade, military and diplomatic ties with North Korea, using a mix of carrots and sticks. Last year, for example, Sudan pledged not to pursue future arms deals with Pyongyang after the US government suggested such sales were standing in the way of major sanctions relief.
Threat posed by corruption and China
Tillerson ended his remarks with an appeal to African governments to tackle the threat posed by corruption and bad governance.
“Bribes and corruption keep people in poverty, they encourage inequality and undercut citizens’ faith in government” said Tillerson. “Legitimate investment stays away, and insecurity and instability grows, creating conditions ripe for terrorism and conflict.”
Tillerson also took aim at China, which has been investing heavily on the continent and is constructing its first overseas military base in Djibouti.
“The United States pursues sustainable growth that bolsters institutions, strengthens the rule of law and builds the capacity of African countries to stand on their own two feet,” said Tillerson. “This stands in stark contrast to China’s approach, which encourages dependency — using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty, denying them the long-term, self-sustaining growth.”
“Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa’s infrastructure gap, but its approach has led to mounting debt and few if any jobs in most countries,” he added. “When coupled with political and fiscal pressure, this endangers Africa’s natural resources and its long-term economic and political stability.”
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson greets participants during a meeting of African leaders at the State Department in Washington
Today, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced nearly $533 million in humanitarian assistance for the people of Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria, as well as countries in the Lake Chad region, where millions are facing life-threatening food insecurity and malnutrition as a result of ongoing conflict or prolonged drought. While humanitarian aid is truly life-saving, this assistance will not solve these crises, most of which are largely manmade.
With this new funding from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United States is providing emergency food and nutrition assistance to help vulnerable populations, including tens of thousands of tons of in-kind food aid. Additionally, the funding supports safe drinking water programs, emergency health care and hygiene programs to treat and prevent the spread of disease, and reunification of families separated by conflict. This assistance also includes life-saving medical supplies, improved sanitation, and emergency shelter, and prioritizes programs that protect vulnerable groups.
Of the newly announced funds, nearly $184 million is for affected populations from South Sudan, more than $110 million for affected populations from Ethiopia, more than $110 million for affected populations from Somalia, and more than $128 million for affected populations from Nigeria and countries in the Lake Chad region.
In the Lake Chad region and South Sudan, years of conflict have led to acute food insecurity. In Somalia, ongoing violence has exacerbated the humanitarian impacts of severe and protracted drought. In Ethiopia, continued drought has worsened an already dire food security situation. A swift influx of U.S. assistance, along with that of other donors, is helping improve humanitarian conditions in all of these countries. But ultimately it is up to the leaders in these countries, particularly in South Sudan, to stop the violence and put the welfare of their citizens at the forefront of their actions. Millions will continue to be at risk as long as parties to these conflicts continue to engage in violence. The United States calls on all parties to allow aid workers safe and unhindered access to help communities in need.
The United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance for these crises in Africa, providing nearly $3 billion since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2017. We commend the humanitarian contributions made by all donors, and encourage additional contributions to meet growing needs.